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Undulating Periodization


Question about Undulating periodization. Linear progression are basically mesocycles broken down into phases of varying volume/intensities, ie. hypertrophy, strength, power. So I have that down.

Is undulating periodization just changing the intensities and volume each workout? So like say I do chest twice a week rotating areas of work and also changing the type of workout say from a strength base (3-6reps) to a more hypertrophic type workout to even a power type workout.

I know this might seem confusing, but hell im confused, I do it to myself anyone who could help me better grasp this relatively simple concept of unulating periodization would be greatly appreciated.


So far as I can tell, undulating periodization is about still having a set goal or goals for a specific period, but varying the exact set/rep/intensity prescriptions from workout to workout.

For hypertrophy any of these exercise prescriptions would work to some degree, right?

3 sets of 8-12
5 sets of 6-8
10 sets of 3-6

Then for every workout you keep the exercises the same, but then fluctuate through these various set/rep/intensity prescriptions.

Chest workout 1 = 3 x 8-12
Chest workout 2 = 5 x 6-8
Chest workout 3 = 10 x 3-6

What made all the example undulating periodization workouts I'd read through very confusing (until I charted it out on paper) was that each body part starts on a different set/rep/intensity prescription.

Upper Body = 3 x 8-12
Lower Body = 5 x 6-8
Upper Body = 10 x 3-6
Lower Body = 3 x 8-12
Upper Body = 5 x 6-8
Lower Body = 10 x 3-6
Upp...etc, etc, etc.

This way you never repeat a workout twice in a row. Since every time you start a new set-rep-intensity scheme you get the strongest supercompensation after the first training stimulus, you've set up the body to have entirely "new" training stimuli after every single training bout despite that the body still responds with similar responses (in this case, hypertrophy).

I'm still figuring this out, so if anyone were to help me apply this to an aerobic athlete it would be greatly appreciated. How's my understanding so far?

I'd put together "central" and "peripheral" phases. "Central" phases would cycle through LSD, tempo, and VO2max interval sessions. "Peripheral" phases would cycle through VO2max/LT intervals (2 minute vVO2max intervals), anaerobic power intervals, and tabata intervals.

Cycle back and fourth between 4-week phases structured in the typical linear "build-build-crash-regenerate" fashion.

To the highly educated and experienced coaches, researchers, and instructors out there. How's my understanding?


I've had the same question. I understand all that was said in the response so far, but further...
Do the reps have to go: 12 8 3 8 12 8 3 8 12...etc...to be called 'undulating'? That would seem to fit the everyday, common use of the word.


I'm studying this and as far as I have figured it out, it could be something like this:

5x3 / 4x4 / 3x5
or this
5x4 / 4x5 / 3x7
or this
5x5 / 4x6 / 3x8


While this is a form of periodization, this scheme is emphasizing your FF (fast twitch IIb) fibers in every workout which might cause a pleateau/overtraining situation after a couple cycles. There's just not enough unloading and change in volume to be truly undulating, IMO.

I belive the power behind undulating periodization is working a different rep range, and therefore fiber type dominance, during the same micro-cycle (week). So, a program like CW's Quattro Dynamo does precisely this.

But, you could creat you own, just be sure to use 3-4 different rep ranges each subsequent workout and you could even make it even more complex by varying endurance vs. limit strength vs. dynamic work; e.g. 3x15 (endurance), 5x5 (limit), 4x10 (using only 40%1RM for speed and even using a bounce for a plyometric effect).